NEW initial teacher training guidelines in Special Educational Needs could be published in the Spring.

Following the publication of the Sir Andrew ‘Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT)’ in January this year, the Government commissioned an independent working group made up of expert representatives from the sector, including a specialist in SEN issues, to develop a framework of core ITT content.
In a letter to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties, Schools Minister Nick Gibb reveals: “The report will include recommendations as to whether or not the entire framework of core content should be mandatory.”
Mr Gibb informed APPG members that the working group will consider the extent to which SEN and disabilities should be covered and is expected to report in spring 2016.

APPG highlighted concerns

The reply from Mr Gibb is in response to a letter from the APPG detailing its concerns about some teachers not having the ability to help all children reach their potential as they will not necessarily have been trained to recognise Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) and to understand the problems[1] that they face. The letter adds: ‘Differences still remain in the way primary schools are teaching children to read, partly due to inconsistencies in teacher training, and not every child is passing the phonics test.’

‘Not a moment too soon’

Dyslexia Action Chief Executive Kevin Geeson said: “The fact a Government working group is now looking at ways of developing a framework of core ITT content to include all Special Educational Needs is not a moment too soon. The dyslexia sector has been campaigning for dyslexia awareness to be made mandatory as part of initial teacher training and continuing professional development for some years now.”
Children with SpLDs typically have difficulties in short-term auditory memory which impairs their ability to follow and remember instructions, words or names and to hold information long enough for it to be established in their long-term memory. They struggle to learn sequences such as days of the week or the alphabet; read a word, then fail to recognise it further down the page or struggle to remember what has been read, have poor concentration and spell words several different ways. Children with maths difficulties and/or dyscalculia will have difficulties with memory, speed of processing, time perception, organisation and sequencing (DfE, 2001 ). 
As short-term memory is a central skill in the learning process, APPG members recognised how this difficulty could have far reaching educational consequences, particularly if not detected whilst a child was at school.